I was at a Halloween party and to enter you had to step over a corpse of Steph Curry. He was holding in his hands a basketball that had written on it 3-1, the Greatest Team Ever. Has the revolution lost a little bit of glamour since the Warriors epic choke last June?
C.J. Hampshire: You can’t say you revolutionized basketball and then lose three games in a row, beaten by iso scorer Kyrie Irving and on your home floor. The best offensive basketball team needed to win one game and couldn’t. The Warriors have created a copycat league and at the end of the day they couldn’t use the blueprint they have forced on every other organization.
Julian Billick: It’s not much of a revolution. They have impacted offensive basketball. But to what result? Lottery teams haven’t suddenly made the playoffs because they jack up threes. If you look at who took a lot of threes this year, five of the ten teams in 2016-17 are lottery teams. In the playoffs, it is the same teams, year in and year out. I don’t see much evidence of a revolution. It’s about gifted players with skills very few NBA players have. You can’t base your league on the talent of a small minority.
Brendan Gillespie: The revolution got stuck when the Warriors won 73 games and lost in the Finals to a team that plays iso basketball. It kind of slowed the roll.
Mallory Stith-Wheat: The revolution cannot withstand back to back finals losses, particularly if the Warriors play well and cannot stop LeBron and Kyrie. When everything was on the line Warriors basketball lost. Old school NBA- a LeBron block, a Kyrie three- won the title.
The Warriors are prohibitive favorites to win the Finals. But what if they lose two in a row to the Cavs? How will they be perceived?
Julian: One thing they won’t be is on the greatest team ever list. You have to finish it off. They’ll be in the same category as the Buffalo Bills and Atlanta Braves. Great players. Good regular seasons. But can’t get it done in the Finals.
Mallory: The last team to lose to the same team in back-to-back Finals was when the Jazz lost to the Bulls. It’s been almost 20 years. Not a good look.
Brendan: It depends on how they lose which I don’t believe they will. If the games are close but the Cavs have the finishing mojo then it will be one of those Ali-Frazier fights. But if there is a wide margin of victory, if the Cavs beat them at their own three point game, then the memes are going to be brutal.
C.J.: You’ll hear the luck card thrown around. The only reason they won the first title was because Kyrie and K-Love were hurt. They capitalized on the misfortune of others. Man to man they can’t beat physical grind it out teams. They’re soft.
More pressure in the Finals: Steph, Klay, KD, Draymond or Mike Brown?
Brendan: Steph. He has to perform offensively and be some sort of hindrance to Kyrie. Remember Steph was benched in the last seconds in Cleveland on Christmas Day for defensive purposes. I don’t care how he shrugs off the loss. Being scored on and losing a title after 73-9 doesn’t go away.
Mallory: Durant, of course. He left OKC for this reason. Ignore him trying to psyche himself out if he loses and that disaster being okay. He wanted this, this moment, this stage, this opportunity. He was Westbrooked and knew that would never get him here. So he is here. He never beats ‘Bron so he has something to prove.
C.J.: Draymond. In the Warriors exit meetings, Bob Myers asked the players if they held it against Draymond, his lack of discipline and getting suspended. His teammates said no. Warriors fans are a different story. They blame Dray. There is always an excuse when you don’t win the Finals and Warriors fans would rather hit themselves in the head with a hammer before saying the Cavs were better. They blame it on Dray. He costs them a championship. He has to keep his emotions chill this time around. He’s been exemplary in the playoffs but it’s not like he was going up against players that were going to push his buttons. Besides composure, he has to guard LeBron and box out Tristan and switch on Kyrie. He makes the Warriors go. If they win, he’s going to have a hand in it.
Julian: Durant. He made a bold move. We are a reactionary society. We live in the margins. Yes or no. Black or white. Trump or the FBI. Winner of loser. Russ or KD. To make that move legitimate he has to win and he has to beat LeBron and he has to make his critics shut up.
Who Gets the Harrison Barnes trophy: Wretched in the Finals?
C.J.: Klay Thompson. He is the fourth option. He hasn’t had a good playoff run. Steph and Durant are going to dominate and he won’t get enough shots to get out his slump. Plus he is the one Warrior who is really bitter about last year. It weighs on his mind.
Mallory: Kevin Love. I think his run stops against the Warriors. No one shoots threes with any accuracy against the Warriors and I see Love throwing up bricks.
Brendan: Steph Curry on Kyrie. Kyrie Irving on Curry. Both of their defenses are going to be epic awful.
Julian: Mike Brown. He’s in over his head. He’s never been an after time out coach. His adjustments have usually been pretty awful. He’ll need Kerr coaching from the locker room.
photo via llananba